WORKPLACE / NOV. 14, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Decode Your Boss

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Being a boss is no easy task! Not only do they have a full workload of their own, but that workload includes managing people who may have no desire to be managed. People who would prefer to be left alone to do their work as they see fit.

See also: How to Adjust to a New Boss

It’s important that you understand your boss, as that will help you to get along with him/her better. Here are some ways that you can decode your boss and understand him/her more effectively:

Watch for Non-Verbal Cues

Remember that 80% of human communication is unspoken, meaning the expressions on your boss’s face, their hand gestures, and the way they stand will tell you a lot about them. Study their body language and expressions to try to understand what they’re thinking or feeling.

Ask for Verbal Cues

If you’re not sure what your boss is saying, ask for clarification. Non-verbal cues can often be misleading, or they may cause misunderstandings. Instead of letting your communication deteriorate, ask your boss if you have any questions. Don’t let subtle hints or insinuations cause miscommunications, ask straight out if you aren’t certain.

Respond with Questions

When your boss talks to you, the last thing they want is someone who will simply nod and say, "Okay". They want a bit of feedback, often in the form of questions. They want to be certain that you have understood what they are asking of you, and the best way to do that is to ask them questions to clarify any misunderstandings. Make sure that they know that you’re listening.

Avoid Distractions

When your boss is talking, don’t fidget, play on your phone, look around the office, or, worst of all, keep working. Stop what you’re doing, look at your boss, and avoid distractions. If your boss wants to meet with you, make sure that your meeting takes place in a room free of distractions.

Listen for the Real Meaning

Bosses tend to say a lot of things, but they may not always mean them. For example:

  • Boss says: "I don’t have a problem with it, but it’s company policy." Boss means: I have a problem with it, but I don’t want it to be my fault that you can’t do/get what you want.
  • Boss says: "Your progress/results are lacking." Boss means: I don’t see you working as hard as you could, but I would be happy if you would spend more time at your desk.
  • Boss says: "Get to the point." Boss means: I have a very busy day, and I need this to be over so I can return to the overwhelming pile of work to be done.
  • Boss says: "I would like you to…" Boss means: Here is an order, just phrased in a nice way so that you don’t feel demeaned.
  • Boss says: "Well done! Keep up the good work!" Boss means: If you can prove that you can keep up this level of performance, there’s a lot more coming your way.

See also: Ways-to-make-your-boss-love-you

Understanding what your boss is really saying will help to avoid miscommunications, making it easier for you to decode the way your boss thinks and acts.

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